CRFFN: Olanrewaju writes Amaechi, identifies financial interest as bane of credible election


A former Chairman of the Governing Council of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Aare Hakeem Olanrewaju has written the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi identifying financial interest as the major reason behind endless rancour among the freight forwarding practitioners especially during the electioneering process leading to the election of the Governing Council members.

Olanrewaju who stated this in a letter dated 7th March, 2022 and made available to our correspondent acknowledged that the persistent clamour by the five accreditated associations in their 6:6:1:1:1 sharing formula quests over and in preference to a credible professional electioneering process stemmed from this background.

Olanrewaju, however, disclosed that the Regulation 2010 (Annual Subscription & Other Fees) made by the first Governing Council members pursuant to Section 6(2c) wherein the Practitioners Transaction Fee (PTF) which later was christened the Practitioners Operating Fee (POF) was regulated accordingly.

He explained that the fee was aimed at rapidly developing and galvanizing the freight forwarding profession and to place it on the global map especially so among the comity of professionalize freight forwarding nations.

He further revealed that it was resolved that the accredited associations would receive a yearly subvention (subject to the CRFFN management) for the sole aim of training programs (capacity building) adding that the subvention disbursement would be effected with consideration to respective associations’ numerical strength and spreads across the operational zones.

He added that such subvention was subject to yearly retirement and auditing by the CRFFN auditors even as he pointed out that this was agreed on in order to foster and integrate the culture of both professionalism and accountability amongst the freight forwarding accredited associations.

“Surprisingly, when there was no constituted Governing Council in place, the former Registrar, Sir Mike Jukwe, in collusion with some Ministry staff and associations leaders went from behind on the 26th day of February, 2015 and  amended the provisions of Section 9(1) of the above Regulations 2010  with a caveat which reads thus: ‘CRFFN collects 60% as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), the associations will collect 35% as provided by the CRFFN Act (Accreditation of Associations of Freight Forwarders) Regulation 2010. The Registered Freight Forwarders/License Customs Agent ( RFF/LCA) is entitled to the 5% of the Practitioners Operating Fee which will be collected by the CRFFN and remitted to the concerned RFF/LCA.’

“At no time did the Accreditation of Associations of Freight Forwarders –  Regulation 2010 contemplated nor contained such dangerous tends except perhaps, to state the obvious suspicion that the said regulation might have been manipulated by the magic hands of the promoters.

“The crux of the matter revolves around this premise leading to the rampant press fires works, the deliberate insistence, resistance and subtle threats and refusals by the leadership of the accredited associations to any suggested or reasonable professional approach in matters of election, etc. originates and revolves around this financial interests.”

He, however, informed that the only time the accredited associations would be considered and deemed fit for an administrative fee of 2 %  of total CRFFN yearly income generation, according to Regulation 2010, was when the CRFFN would have successfully accredits upto 10 associations (to represents all the professional areas of specialities) and then puts up a 10 years seal for further associations accreditation.

“And then, package the 10 accredited associations to transmute into the Nigeria Federation of Freight Forwarding Association (a pending regulations has already been articulated to this effect awaiting ratification and official gazette), which will be seconded to represent Nigeria in the global regulatory body, FIATA and change the prevailing status quo where the CRFFN is holding brief for Nigeria’s presence in the FIATA register as promised.

“As presently constituted, the number of unaccredited associations by the CRFFN are far greater than the five accredited associations and under such arrangement, industrial peace cannot be easily guaranteed.

“It was for the avoidance of these dangerous trend and for reasons of fostering adherence to professional conducts and integrity that the first and second Governing Council leadership was very careful with this  type of financial patronages to associations. Mostly so, because the possibility of the unaccredited associations coming together to join issues with the CRFFN management may be likely, hence, the need to nurture regulation that will engender industrial peace other than sacrificing  the peace we so much canvassed on the altar of poor regulatory efficiency,  thereby leading to further set backs.

“In addition, let me strongly posit here that the civil servants seconded to the Governing Council in the first and second Council insisted then, that since the CRFFN was interpreted as an agency of the government by the Attorney General of the Federation, at no time must government be seen as sharing its revenue with an individual or corporate body, perhaps, this maxim seems no longer in place.

“May I at this juncture implore the Honorable Minister to use his good office to avert looming professional chaos ahead, talking in the realm of futuristic”, he stated.

He went on to posit that association owners/leadership resorted to selecting freight forwarders that were loyal to them as reported that some of them co-opted and compelled some of their members to pay millions of naira in order to secure their nomination to represent their associations in the Governing Council.

“Few of them in their open remarks taunted that there is always a return on investments.

“Analysis of vested interests in the 35% yearly income allocation to the association will be articulated and forwarded to your attention, after investigation”, he assured.

The former CRFFN boss recalled that as at 28th January, 2012, out of the over 5,000 applications uploaded into the CRFFN portal, a total number of 1,435 individual membership and 445 corporate membership and 2 freight forwarding associations were duly verified/accredited, inducted and certificated at the maiden induction of freight forwarders held at the main auditorium, University of Lagos, Akoka thereby marking the formal establishment of the Register of Freight Forwarders for onward administration.

“Wherefore, item 1c to i above was compromised as reported in the media, thus:

“i. The registration of non practitioners as mercenaries merely for wining elections negates the provisions of item i to iii of the CRFFN published: Requirements for Individual Registration and Certificate of Experience Issued By An Employer Under Section 20 of The CRFFN Act 16, 2007.

“ii. The non application of the said provisions during registration exercise  prompted by an election into the Governing Council and non publication of true, verified and certified active practitioners and deregister notice and lists of non compliant practitioners ahead of an electioneering process is a deliberate compromise.

“iii. It is an act of deliberate compromise for the CRFFN to designate its registration portal (for both new membership and annual subscription registration activities) to an interested party (association’s secretariat) during an electioneering process whereas the CRFFN has a conducive and functional office complex in Lagos and other zones.

“iv. It was also reported that soon after the election, the register of freight forwarders drops drastically on account of non annual subscription in the subsequent years till another election year leading to membership data fluctuation, inconsistency and poor data keeping with regards to ‘real time comprehensive register of freight forwarders’ that can be presented or accessable at any given time. This is an outright abuse of professional regulation and maintenance of professional register.

“v. Item ‘1a to c’ above is evidently compromised when and where the CRFFN management failed to control the internal crisis still lingering in one of its supposed regulated, accredited association..

“vi. The present scenario in the industry suggests that the regulated now decides the future of the regulator. This is a sorry state as there is no end to this scenario especially so in the face of the electioneering process and setting.

“vii. Other instances of compromises abounds but for the sake of time and space”, he added.

He, therefore, urged the Honourable Minister to settle down and take a second look at the electioneering process as doing otherwise would be regarded as looking the other way when so many compromises and issues were going wrong with the agency under his supervision.

He maintained that “Looking the other way or feigning ignorant of it will tantamount that your nonchalance towards the freight forwarding profession is premised or construe as your non conversant with the roles and importance of the freight forwarding profession cum practitioners to the nations economy.

“Finally, I want to beg the Hon. Minister to show cause and commitment towards the attainments of professionalism in the freight forwarding industry via an effective and efficient CRFFN administration.

“Your Excellency, Sir, please ensure you leave a worthy legacy at the end of your almost seven years stay in the office as a Minister of Transportation, especially in the freight forwarding subsector of the maritime industry. As far as we are concern, you have the will and the will is yours.

“Once, again help to avert looming chaos ahead.”

Photo: Former Chairman, CRFFN Governing Council, Aare Hakeem Olanrewaju.

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